This morning someone asked me if Mary's Heirloom Seeds offered truly ancient seeds. Specifically, not from the 1980s but true heirloom seeds.
90 days. Tall, 3’- 5’ plants are covered with very long rope-like flowers that are a deep, brilliant red color. One of the most striking plants for any garden and so easy to grow. Amaranth is one of our favorite crops! A good seed producer, too. This is a very old heirloom, a pre-1700 variety, that was very popular. Leaves are tasty as cooked greens.
The definition of an heirloom is a seed variety that is more than 50 years old. Some prefer a variety that is over 100 years old. An heirloom seeds is not GMO and is not a hybrid.
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we offer a few varieties than can be traced back to the 1700s and even older. It's true! So today I'm going to highlight some of those varieties....we offer offer over 700 heirloom seed varieties so these are just a few! (updated 5/21)
55 days. Old-time favorite introduced in 1900. Excellent quality and yields. Stringless pods are 5-7 inches long with delicious wax bean flavor. Good for freezing or canning.
50-55 days. Introduced in 1897 by Peter Henderson & Co., this excellent fresh snap bean has tasty pods. Also makes a fine dry soup bean. Great yields! A perfect all-purpose bean!
Pole Bean variety. Introduced in 1864, this bean was originally known by the name 'Old Homestead.' What made the 'Kentucky Wonder' a wonder was, in part, its size. The beans are extraordinarily long. They produce beans in clusters over an extended season. 'Kentucky Wonder' beans actually mature in 58-72 days.
48 days. (Brassica oleracea) An Italian heirloom that was brought to America in the 1880s, 5-8" heads and many side shoots.
60 days. These juicy beets have light red skin and beautiful rings inside, almost like a peppermint candy. A pre-1840 Italian heirloom beet variety. Arrived in the USA before 1865. Flesh is tender, sweet and mild.
60 days. This loose-leafed cabbage dates back to the early 1800’s at least. It has beautiful, deep black-green leaves that can be 24” long. They are heavily savoyed. This Italian heirloom is popular in Tuscany and central Italy for making fabulous soups and stews.
70 days. RARE. The Vilmorins of France mentioned this variety in 1885 and said it had been grown a “long time” then. A large handsome variety with bright red-orange roots; smooth, 10”-12” long & 2”-3” in diameter. Sweet & tender.
90 days. The ears reach 7-8 inches long and produce a sweet and delicious, white kernel. The ears have no rows, as this is a shoepeg type, and kernels are packed in a zigzag pattern. Country Gentleman was introduced around 1890 by Frank Woodruff & Sons. One of the best heirloom sweet corns. *NON-GMO*
90-110 days. Released commercially in 1856. This delicious white sweet corn is regarded as the "King of All White Sweet Corn Varieties", has been popular for over 162 years. Stowell's Evergreen matures slowly over a long period, extending the usual harvest and produces 9 inch ears with 16 to 20 rows of plump, sweet white kernels. It has a good shelf life, and is a good option for eating fresh, canning or freezing. *NON-GMO*
65 days. Yummy little striped round balls of sunshine goodness! Introduced in 1894. Lemon cucumbers are crunchy, non bitter skin and about the size of a tennis ball.
90 days. This historic heirloom was grown by Thomas Jefferson in 1794. It was offered commercially in the USA in 1824, and it was illustrated in color in France in 1854 in the Vilmorin Album. This wonderful variety has become very rare. The fruit have netted skin and light green flesh that is firm, sweet and highly perfumed. Productive plants can be trained up a trellis.
60 days. Delicious cabbage-flavored bulbs that grow above ground. Purple skin and sweet, white flesh; good cooked or raw. Kohlrabi makes a real staple crop, with high yields; cold hardy. A pre-1860 heirloom.
45 days. Beautiful apple-green leaves speckled and splashed with deep red. Originally a Dutch variety brought from the Netherlands to Ontario, Canada by Mennonite immigrant Urias Martin in 1799. A beautiful loose-leaf variety.
60 days. Vigorous bush plants, heavy yields and fine-flavored peas. A great home garden variety. An heirloom from 1908. Pods are 3 inches with 5 or 6 peas. Fine sweet flavor when picked young. Compact 18 to 20 inch plant does not require staking.
23 days. Mild spicy flavor, oblong radish that grows 1 1/2 to 2 inches. A pre-1885 French heirloom.
100-110 days. Connecticut field pumpkins usually grow to around 20lbs. They reach around 12 inches in diameter and have a thick flesh. A great pumpkin for baking pies or carving Jack-o-Lanterns. Introduced prior to 1700.
Chard was first described in 1753 by Carl von Linné as Beta vulgaris var. cicla. 50-60 days. (Beta vulgaris) This chard originated in Australia. A beautiful chard; its colors are brilliant (pink, yellow, orange, red and white). Very mild ornamental. Pretty enough to plant in the flower garden; so delicious!
80-90 days. One of the most popular heirloom tomatoes! A favorite of many gardeners; large fruit with superb flavor. A great potato-leafed variety from 1885! Beautiful pink fruit up to 1-1/2 lbs. each!
80 days. Indeterminate. An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; beautiful deep dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very large sized fruit. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak in style.
80 days. Plant produces extremely heavy yields of 1" red cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes are very flavorful. Grows in cluster of 20 to 40 tomatoes. Name translates to "Giant Bunch of Grapes". Excellent for making tomato wine. Grown by Pennsylvania Dutch as early as 1856. A heirloom from Germany.
At Mary's Heirloom Seeds we also offer a very unique selection of both Medicinal and Culinary herbs, some that have been used for centuries.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
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Thank you for this post!
I didn’t know that some of the common varieties of seeds are so ancient- that is a little reassuring! Brandywine tomato, Cherokee purple tomato, little marvel garden pea! I’m going to order from you for my fall garden, thank you!
Margaret Walton on
I have been looking for a place to buy ancient heirloom seeds. How might i get a catalog sent to my home?
Rebecca Quaintance on
Looking for a 1930s currant Bush that has yellow flowers in the spring and then had a dark colored berrie in the fall , could you please help me find them
Marshall Grier on
I’m ready to order seeds for my fall crops. I like you am looking for old time nutrition vegetables.
I wish to grow vegetables that have nutrition not for looks. Similar to decades ago produce. Any help us appreciated.
Marsha Adams on
So glad I found you.
Mary. Such a great selection. I just started researching… and fascinated by the seed saving…pure seeds passed from year to year. How is it that you can get seeds and know the history of a seed….many were probably kept in the family of pure olden farmers?? Just wondering how a seed is traced…???
James O Williams Jr on
Love your seeds, thank yoi